The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Corrections and many county sheriff's offices provide online inmate locators that online users can access for free. The search tool is often accessible on the official website of the respective agencies.
The BOP allows anyone to locate a federal inmate incarcerated from 1982 to the present. Inmates may be searched by their name or by their BOP, DCDC, FBI or INS number. The locator brings back basic information about the inmate, including the inmate's full name, register number, release date and, if the inmate is still inside a BOP facility, current location.
The DOC of each state usually operates search tools for convicted felons with sentences in excess of a year. A state's correctional facility also detains offenders awaiting trial, parolees and juvenile offenders. The search tool of most DOC websites only applies to adult prisoners currently incarcerated within the facility. Similar to the BOP search tool, most DOC search tools require the last name or the DC number of the inmate. The provided information may include the offender's prior and current offenses and status inside the correctional facility.
County jails house inmates who violated local laws and with sentences shorter than a year. A county sheriff's office supervises a county jail and also manages the information on its official website. While many sheriff's offices require an inmate's basic information to start a search, some post a public inmate roster on their websites, allowing anyone to access basic inmate information, such as booking photos and current offenses.